In a lengthy feature breaking down Anthony Davis’s long-term future in New Orleans, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a Woj bomb as he is prone to doing. The Celtics have been and continue to be “vigilant” in attempting to trade for Davis.
Boston has remained vigilant on the possibility of acquiring Davis, and Davis knows it. However, the Pelicans have no intention of trading an all-world talent under contract through 2021, no matter the return.
Celtics fans may have been excited about the possibility of acquiring Davis, but the part about the Pelicans having “no intention” of ever trading Davis does put a damper on things. Given the current state of the NBA, a small market team like the Pelicans are unlikely to trade a player of Davis’ caliber, because the team understands just how hard it is to acquire a bonafide superstar.
In the unlikely scenario the Pelicans do decide to trade Davis, here is what the Celtics would need to give up to acquire the big man. The first thing you notice about the Celtics roster is the lack of large contracts, which makes sense given the amount of youth in Boston. Davis makes $23.7 million this season meaning the Celtics would need to give up three to four players to make the trade work under the salary cap.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, two big reasons for the Celtics early success this season, would need to be included. Their inclusion still does not even match half of Davis’s salary. Boston would also need to add two of these three players: Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Would a Celtics team leading the Eastern Conference be willing to gut their roster to acquire Davis? It seems unlikely. Even after trading away the 2018 Nets pick in the Kyrie Irving deal, Boston still owns a plethora of future draft picks. However, the Celtics are over the cap so to take on Davis’ salary they would not be able to send a bunch of picks to New Orleans without also including players.
Davis admitted to Wojnarowski that he has heard the Celtics trade rumors, and was concerned last season.
He [Pelicans GM Dell Demps] told me that [Boston] was calling, but nothing was going to happen. At the same time, though, you see how organizations treat players. Isaiah Thomas. DeMarcus [Cousins] told me that the [Kings] told him that he wasn’t going to get traded, but they traded him. Isaiah took his team to the Eastern Conference finals, and they traded him.
After this season, Davis still has three more years left on his deal as his 5-year, $127 million contract does not expire until 2021. Davis’ trade value is interesting given the value of big men has declined in the NBA in recent years. Davis’ ability transcends his position as the big man is averaging 25.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2 blocks this season. While there is no shortage of suitors for Davis, look for the Pelicans to hold onto him despite the recent trade rumors.